Yesterday as the credits for the Hannibal finale, Season 3’s ‘The Wrath of the Lamb’ (Episode 13), crawled atop a magnificently devastating ocean vista to the eerie voice of Siouxsie Sioux proclaiming survival, my Fannibalism reached a crescendo which has proved somewhat inconsolable in the non-Hannibal-stuffed wake of the 24 hours which followed.
There is a very tenable risk that my reaction is painfully unoriginal, and indeed articles such as on Digital Spy, Buzzfeed’s interview with Bryan Fuller, and the unholy glory of Tumblr’s Fuck Yeah Hannibal page already give Fannibals bucketfuls of (post-)finale gratification; I was compelled however to write this, as otherwise there may very well have been a rampage, and I would rather not be institutionalised for screaming ‘IT WAS SO PERFECT!’ in Long Eaton highstreet.
Season 1 of Hannibal felt like a struggle. About a year after it had aired in the UK, a friend of mine wondered if she might watch it, and my response was a mixture of fervent enthusiasm and earnest warning. It was beautiful and stylish series, perhaps slightly slow at times, but it always maintained an intensity which left the impression that something utterly grand was being created and on account of this, obliged me to sit at Hannibal’s table each week. Plus, it was about cannibalism (fun!) and had Laurence Fishburne in it (who is always insanely wonderful).
My misgivings about Hannibal concerned the treatment of Will Graham’s character as each week he would be left psychologically maimed at the hands of Hannibal. He wasn’t alone in his torment, Hannibal afterall has no qualms about killing folks and turning them into delicious soup, but Will’s suffering was set apart in the series because it was endless- Hannibal’s snacks at least mostly had the release of death.
Perhaps guilty of desensitisation, normally this type of visual display would not elicit such a deep personal response, but as the series progressed I found it became physically painful to watch. Will’s character came to reflect part of my own mentality at the time, and as the few opportunities for medical assistance for Will were sabotaged, my sense of frustration grew. There was a distinct sense of entrapment on account of my mental health, and as I watched Will suffer each week there was a growing sense of unease that salvation, normality, was impossible; the clock scene for example, is something I still feel uncomfortable watching because of Hannibal’s wilful neglect.
I wanted to help Will Graham, and the sense of utterly pathetic uselessness which overcame me each week was
reassuringly beautifully reflected by Fannibals the world over with the phrase ‘Someone please help Will Graham’ growing in use over the internet (lovely examples here, here and here).
I carried on watching because I was genuinely impressed that a television programme could make me feel so very uneasy; a schadenfreude interested only in self-mutilation.
In Season 2 the emotional pressure lightened as the complexity and goriness of the murders increased, and for this reason this isn’t the favourite season for a lot of Fannibals, although personally I found this season the most genuinely entertaining. The pace of the story quickened, and the introduction of characters such as Mason and Margot Verger heightened Hannibal’s creepiness to exponential levels. With the first episode alluding to an event which would take place 12 weeks later, and having Will feeling much more sane (albeit also being framed by Hannibal for numerous crimes, and imprisoned), the season felt oddly relaxing. There was a pre-determined destination, and every act of cannibalism could be thoroughly enjoyed on the way, reclaiming lots of the fun lost amidst the intensity of season 1. Having not seen this season for about a year, there is some torment in not being able to recall precisely every wonderful moment, but special moments include Mason wishing to drink the tears of children, and then later eating his own nose in a drug-induced state.
When the 12 week prelude eventually emerged in the finale, the relationship between Will and Hannibal had developed into something unstable but compelling (in the absence of my own worthy linguistic dexterity, if you haven’t seen Hannibal there is a short description of the dynamic of the relationship changing during season 2 here). Watching Hannibal embrace and subsequently disembowel Will, with Jack bleeding to death in the pantry, was simply immense conclusion to a thoroughly enjoyable and skilfully acted season, which frequently afforded gasps of genuine horror.
And then, season 3. Without wishing to recap (because we’ve all seen it and we all love it), the story arc of this season was so very grand, and ultimately immensely satisfying. Maintaining the dark style of the previous seasons and inclusive of the repetitive noise-like musical interludes, highlights include the brief reappearances of Gideon, Jack absolutely kicking the shit out of Hannibal, anytime Alana says something badass, and virtually anything which includes Dr. Chilton having a terrible, terrible time. Hannibal is continually stunning, and does not falter in its visually intrusive portrayals of violence, but the representation of intimacy in all its forms is also entirely convincing, allowing Fannibals to enjoy Alana and Margot’s developing relationship just as much as Mason waking up wearing Cordell’s face.
Oh God, Mason, seriously.
Further to this, there are a number of crucial moments for Will and Hannibal’s relationship, which ultimately encompasses what Hannibal has always been about. Again, there is tension and instability: Will forgives Hannibal in the catacombs, and Hannibal slices Will’s head open so he can eat his brain. So it goes. Throughout each act, however extreme, Dancy and Mikkelsen are able to convey the subtlest of emotions which fundamentally connects the two characters in their inexorable conflict of desire for murder, and detestable infatuation for each other.
For another friend of mine, the finale of season 3 was too much of a demonstration of what has become known as ‘Hannigram’ online- a Fannibal offshoot depicting Will and Hannibal’s romantic relationship, and birthing a multitude of fanfiction, and romantic and entertaining .gifs. I love Hannigram, and will fully admit to making my Will and Hannibal Pop Vinyl figures kiss in front of my boyfriend, because it amuses me greatly. However, although there are definite Hannigram elements of Hannibal, I don’t feel that the content is overridden by this, and that actually (or, at least outside of my internet browsing history) their relationship is formed of something entirely other.
There is a lot to digest in the finale (heh), even discounting Bedelia’s post-credits appearance. I got the same satisfaction from the finale as I did from episode 7, ‘Digestivo’, where Hannibal turns himself over to the Police so that Will shall always know where he is, and which I had actually mistook for the finale at the time (I can’t count, okay? – AND I was completely overwhelmed by the sense of reassurance which I have NEVER felt whilst watching Hannibal before). After watching the finale, I don’t even particularly mind if our beloved programme doesn’t come back for another series, because it made me feel so very warm and fuzzy. I would also point out that I have now watched the last 15 minutes 4 times over because I just can’t cope with how perfect it is.
I don’t see Will and Hannibal’s relationship as sexual; they definitely love each other (and probably are in love with each other), but that doesn’t necessarily have to mean that sexual attraction forms part of this- rather I feel their relationship is much more complex. Given the psychological torment at the beginning of their relationship, the very final scene of the finale feels more like intense relief than homoeroticism, because Will has finally accepted who he is – in gutting Dolarhyde, Will is able to fulfil his desire to commit murder, which he has struggled with since season 1, and Hannibal’s earlier statement that ‘the bluff is eroding’ seems to cement this theory. After killing the Dragon (which was a purely magnificent cinematic piece), the physical contact between Will and Hannibal is simply a gesture of intense reconciliation, and made me feel as though I was able to breathe for the first time in 3 years!
I do feel that there is a question over whether Hannibal went over the edge of the cliff with Will willingly. Obviously Will has always been morally conflicted about his relationship with Hannibal, and despite the bluff having eroded, likely won’t be able to live easily with the knowledge that he enjoyed murdering Dolarhyde, aswell as the many other atrocities he has been involved in over the series. Hannibal’s view would seem contradictory: on the one hand, he mentions something earlier in the episode about sacrificing your own life for a friend- which would explain his lack of resistance in going over the edge, but then later tells Dolarhyde that ‘suicide is the enemy’. I haven’t yet made up my mind if Hannibal’s arms flail around just a little as they tip over, in panic, or simply due to the force of the drop. Either way, I can’t help but feel fully content that they’re both together, and I don’t even mind if they are alive or dead. The turmoil of season 1 has finally dissipated. Will no longer needs help. Our murder husbands are embracing.
In my opinion there has always been an exclusive connection between them that just makes it so intense, and one which vastly undermines all other relationships, including Will’s with his wife Molly. Hannibal and Will love each other, but it is infinitely dangerous and extends far deeper than perhaps either of them can completely live with; Hannibal afterall says that his compassion for Will is ‘inconvenient’, and Will finally decides to send Hannibal to his watery grave. He could have let the Dragon kill him, but he loves him too much to see him die. Moreover, he cannot let Hannibal live, but nor can he live without him.
Overall, despite Hannibal’s untimely death, I feel the entire cast and team have created something lasting and beautiful, with the finale in particular being a fitting end which has left all hungry Fannibals feeling full after 3 intense seasons. I’d say thank you to each and every one of them if I could. Alas, I shall instead press post and eat some
… and I suppose that’s about it! I’m very sorry for the length of this post- although perhaps my half-year absence was deserving of something fatiguing to promote my return (don’t worry about my lack of posts, it’s only because I’ve been mostly dead inside). In conclusion, I believe this absolutely wonderful still sums up how I feel… Hannibal’s all like ‘I FINALLY HAVE A FRIEND’, and I am literally weeping with joy on the sofa:
So how did you enjoy the finale?
Has it at least partially helped you come to terms with Hannibal’s cancellation?
Do you disagree with my Hannigram sentiment?
Let me know in the comments below!
P.S I’ll leave you to enjoy this miniature series 3 gag reel.
P.P.S. Ozge’s Words on WordPress has an IMMENSE photo recap of the finale which I would heartily recommend.
Most photos from http://www.nbc.com/.